How to Get Permanent Marker Off the Wall (Magic Eraser Vs. Sharpie)

You have kids at home, they’re running around like lunatics and one of them decided since you can draw on paper, obviously you can draw on a wall. With Sharpie. Here’s show to remove it.  The Sharpie that is, not the child.

 

Years ago when I first started this blog I got a question from one of my readers about how to get Sharpie off walls. It was a nice change of pace from the most common question I get which is what’s the REAL difference between Miracle Whip and Mayonnaise. The following is the exchange that took place:

Question Submitted:

Hi Karen!

Long story short, a Sharpie went through the wash (my clothes were perfectly fine), however when I took the cap off the Sharpie to inspect it, liquefied Sharpie flung onto my wall (I rent). Now I have three large, drippy looking marks on the wall and I have no idea how to get them off. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks in advance!
-brenna

Karen Answers:

Hi Brenna –

Well I can tell you right now, I wouldn’t worry about the walls so much as the dog.  Sharpies, otherwise known as “Wrinkle Dogs”, are excellent swimmers but don’t hold up well in washing machines I wouldn’t imagine.   The fact that you have described your dog as “liquefied” alarms me but,  I’ll attempt to answer your question.

Also, why was your Sharpie wearing a cap?

~ Karen

Shar-Pei

Imagine my embarrassment when I realized that Brenna wanted to remove permanent marker from her walls, not her dog.  It was a Sharpie, not a Shar-Pei.  This was discovered once Brenna emailed me a photo of the mishap. 

I also wrote a post a few years ago about how to revive a dried our Sharpie. In that case I did not mistake a pen for a dog. 

 

Actual reader’s wall with permanent marker stains.

Taking all Ask Karen questions seriously, I immediately notified Brenna that the Sharpie marks on her wall look just like wiggling sperm.   In the interest of science and Brenna’s sperm looking Sharpie marks I conducted an experiment on my very own white walls to figure out how to get Sharpie off walls.  

My own white walls which I used to test how to remove permanent marker.

I did my absolute best to replicate Brenna’s sperm marks.  And after just 30 seconds working with the two magic ingredients, my wall looked like this …

I can guarantee that the above photo isn’t altered or Photoshopped in any way. I didn’t even know how to use Photoshop 10 years ago when this question originally came in.  I do know how to use it now but prefer to limit my Photoshopping powers to keeping my roots touched up on Instagram photos.

So how did I do it? Well, I didn’t use nail polish remover and a cotton ball like some other sites recommend. I *did* use something else you’re likely to have on hand though.

A (clean) Magic Eraser and Windex.

And the Windex isn’t even mandatory.  Just using a Magic Eraser and water on your wall will remove permanent marker without removing the paint.

Yes – a Magic Eraser is all you need to get Sharpie off your walls.

How Do You Remove Sharpie From the Wall.

How to Get Permanent Marker Off the Wall

How to Get Permanent Marker Off the Wall

Active Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
Estimated Cost: $2

How to safely remove Sharpie from walls without damaging the paint.

Materials

  • Magic Eraser
  • Windex or Water

Instructions

  1. Spray the affected wall with glass cleaner or water.
  2. Using as gentle pressure as possible scrub the area with a Magic Eraser. Continue scrubbing and wiping with a clean cloth until the Sharpie marks are gone.

Notes

The newer the marks, the more easily the marker can be removed so do it as soon as you notice it.

And here … is video proof. 

Notice that I kept flipping the Magic Eraser around so I was always working with a clean part of the sponge.  Also, right after I finished cleaning the wall with the Magic Eraser, I rubbed over it with a damp sponge to clean up any residue.  And that’s it. That’s how to get Sharpie off the wall. I am completely confident it’ll work for you.

And in case you’re wondering NO, I was not paid in any way by Magic Eraser to do this post. Although I wouldn’t pass it up if they offered. Oh God. I shouldn’t have used the word sperm so much.  Magic Eraser people would never want to sponsor someone who says sperm all the time.  

I should have used the word “love wiggles”.

To anyone who came here looking for information on how to get actual love wiggles off of their wall, I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. And your misfortune. 

49 Comments

  1. MaryPat says:

    Our secret use for the Magic Eraser is that it will clean hard water and metal stains off the sides of our fiberglass in-ground pool. Does not matter if the stain are above or below the water line, a little elbow grease and a magic eraser does the trick!

  2. Mary W says:

    My grandson (4 yo) decided to ‘decorate’ his room then moved onto the hallway and brilliantly decided to have the livingroom walls match. Using black magic marker, he made wonderful drawings of trees, flowers, smiley faces, balloons, and other really happy pictures. He was so proud that he had done such a thorough job. His Mom came in from cleaning the garage and discovered the art museum – called big sister out of her room to show her what G had done while sister was NOT watching him, She called her husband in saying DO NOT punish him. He knew it had to be bad. He was smart enough to take a walking tour movie of the scene as my daughter cleaned the walls. She used a Magic Eraser and in less than an hour there were no traces of the pop-up art show, one totally bummed little boy that had been so proud of his decorating gift to his family, one punished older sister, and one ‘disappointed in you’ dad that said he wasn’t going to punish G since he didn’t know it was wrong but expected him to ask next time if it would be ok. I think it would have made a great commercial.

  3. Ken Kosko says:

    91% Isopropyl (or Ethyl) Alcohol and a paper towel will instantly remove permanent marker from most surfaces with little effort

  4. Jenny W says:

    Well this is timely LoL!
    I have been looking at ways to create a faux Shiplap wall in my staircase hall, and a lot of people have used a regular old fine tipped sharpie to create the lines. I am actually thinking of trying that method because I have nothing better to do during this damn Covid Lockdown.
    I am worried that I will hate it, though, and am already googling ways to get rid of it if that happens.
    A magic eraser for minor slip ups, but I wonder if you know of a great primer that would cover up sharpie without bleeding through?

    • Karen says:

      I’d try just a regular primer like Fresh Start to begin with and if that doesn’t seem like it’s going to work I’d use Bin primer/sealer. :) ~ karen!

  5. Overlord laharl says:

    rubbing alcohol and a paper towel work wonders and most household stock them
    some stock alcohol pads instead that would be an all in one solution.
    if you only have peroxide use magic erasers or go and buy some alcohol pads (or alcohol)

    be careful because this method may take some paint with it.
    test in a small inconspicuous spot first (like a corner in a closet)

    extra tip if your using alcohol liquid put a new unused spray bottle lid on the alcohol bottle and you have instant alcohol pads most lids should fit just fine, however you may need to move the cardboard disc from the old lid punch a hole in it and pit it in the spray lid for a good seal

  6. Trevor says:

    Hey so this happened to me but the magic eraser doesn’t work that well all it dose is pretty much spread it around but this is the trick just like kids do when they write with sharpies on themselves get a Kleenex and some hand sanitizer germ ex is my favorite put the hand sanitizer in the tissue and tap it against the spots then grab another Kleenex and rub it where the handsanitizer is and rub it around the spot it will smear some what but then you can use the magic eraser.
    And then the spot will be gone for good . But when you just use a magic eraser the sharpie may not be completely visible but it still is there.

    • Diane says:

      Whatever you do, do not EVER use a magic eraser on skin!!!!!! I learned the hard way and this is how….
      I was in the shower and realized I’d forgotten to get the grungy grey adhesive (like surgical tape leaves behind) off my upper chest and ribs. Note: WD-40 works wonders and doesn’t hurt the skin as it is fish oil. I look over and see a magic eraser sitting on the side of the tub. Hey! Great! That thing works on everything! I grab it, wet it and start scrubbing away in the 2 areas I could reach. It took a minute for the pain receptors to start screaming OH MY GAWD!!! The pain!!!! (Insert a heck of a lot of intense swearing in here.) It stung like hell and I was dancing around the shower as the water hit the area and made it sting more. I get out of the shower pretty much panting in pain and think “Ah, hand cream. That’ll be soothing”. Nope. Nope. Nope. Tears immediately spring up and I’m hopping around like an idiot as it felt like my skin was on fire and it was being stung by a 1,000 bees at the same time. It looked like the worst case of rug burn you could ever have imagined. I couldn’t wear a bra to work as the burns were in 2 areas where it would have sat (thank goodness it was winter and I could layer) and every time my clothing brushed the areas tears welled up. I sat hunched over at work for days trying to not let anything touch. It took weeks before the marks went away after the scabs fell off. So please learn by example and use WD-40, baby oil or other greasy substance to get the adhesive off!

  7. christina says:

    I found that wetting a rag and adding baking soda works just as well as magic eraser.

  8. tessa says:

    I have heavy duty sharpie marks ony wall ive used a magic eraser after that I used bleach and its not coming off help.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tessa. I’m afraid if a Magic Eraser doesn’t work I can’t give any advice. It’s always worked for me. Were you using a genuine Magic Eraser or an imitation one? ~ karen!

  9. Kelli says:

    Yay Magic Eraser! Even bigger YAY as I can find them at my local dollar store! It’s the only thing that can clean my white fridge handles; until then, nothing had worked.

  10. Lexie says:

    If you dont have an magic eraser, Windex and a paper towel will work just as well, but it takes a lot longer and more effort! Thank you for this tip I am going to buy a magic eraser soon!

  11. Janice Mortimer says:

    Hey Karen
    I am getting into your stuff…love it. Came across this one and really, I am too lazy to read all this comments but my sister told me to remove sharpie all you have to do is go over the mark with a sharpie again then while it is wet, wipe it off. Seems easier and free. Plus the magic eraser is not biodegradable or “eco-friendly”. Just my 2¢. Thanks for the cheap entertainment. You amuse me.

  12. Crayziladybug says:

    There are times (and surfaces) when using a dry erase marker on top of the sharpie mark will clean it up. You just cover it with the dry erase marker (the ones for dry erase boards) and then wipe it off with a paper towel or dry erase eraser (giggle). I’ve used this on 1) dry erase boards and 2) counter tops and 3) refrigerators. It’s a pretty sweet trick! Not tried it on walls…..

  13. Amy says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE The Best Cleaner Ever (by ScraPerfect). Takes off Bandaid residue from my kid’s bodies, takes off Sharpie from clothes, walls, etc–cleaned up a BBG after my hubby spray painted it (but got some on the dials.) Amazing stuff–and safe for people and the earth. Found it at my Scrapbooking store but they sell it online, too.

  14. Kristin says:

    Oh, Karen; this post just saved the life of a 12-year-old! Said child decided to do her homework, with a Sharpie, on my BRAND-NEW–just installed last month–counter top, and of course it bled through! EGADS!! But, I remained (mostly) calm–no curses or death threats were uttered (aloud)–remembered that you had done a post on this topic, searched your blog, found my Magic Eraser and saved the day. We were super careful not to scrub too hard, and we washed off any solvent residue with soap & water so *hopefully* the finish won’t be damaged. Thank you, Karen! (my daughter thanks you, too!

    • Karen says:

      Yay! That’s great. Not the whole Sharpie incident of course, but the fact that the tip was able to help. I find for the most part, 12 year olds need all the help they can get. As do mothers. ~ karen!

  15. Nicholle says:

    I have used spray and wash to remove sharpie marker from a couch, worked great. Just sprayed the area, let it sit for a second, scrubbed the area with a rag, then rinsed with water on a clean rag and it was good as new.

  16. Amanda says:

    Magic Eraser saved my butt…while capping off the ends of the non-used backyard sprinkler lines (as we had to dig up a few yards of it bc we were having a patio poured the next day) it began to do what it does best in the summer afternoon’s in Florida: RAIN. Hubby hunkered down and held fast to the last cap on the pipe, covering it with his body so it could have time to dry and I grabbed the supplies and ran into the house. whew, avoided the water. I’m made of sugar you know (I melt). I placed the jars of chemicals we had used on my kitchen counter, not even THINKING for a second what these things were…One was pipe thread sealant. It was purple. My counter tops are Corian, and tan…and impossible to replace. Like literally, IMPOSSIBLE. I freaked out, he yelled, I emptied all the cleaners out from under the sink…even tried the old tried-n-true Skin So Soft from Avon(great mosquito repellant!), with no luck. Finally FINALLY I remembered the MrClean Magic Eraser. Magic indeed. He saved my butt BIG TIME!!! Completely erased the purple ring of sealant on my tan counter tops and saved me from disgusted looks the rest of our married lives(which may have been significantly shortened if not for Mr C!)

  17. Anna says:

    OK, I NEED one of these. The other day I was amazed to get crayon off the wall with a baby wipe (seriously, I thought those things were meant to be gentle?!) but think I’d be pushing my luck when it comes to a sharpie!

  18. Marissa says:

    I second the sunscreen. I used to work at a summer camp and we labeled the children’s plastic toys with sharpies, only to have the names eventually rubbed away by the children’s sun protected hands.
    Now, I haven’t tried this on walls, but it definitely works on all types of plastics.

  19. Ana says:

    Duuuuuuude. OMG. I just witnessed the awesome power of the Magic Eraser.

    I’m at work, and one of the VPs’ kids was in the office one weekend about a month ago, got a hold of a Sharpie and drew circles and squiggles all over his dry-erase board.

    We tried everything we had in the office – all-purpose cleaner, scrubby wipes for dry-erase boards – then I called in our cleaning dept. They got a little of the other (non-Sharpie) marks off, but not the black Sharpie.

    Yesterday, I was in the cleaning product aisle at the store and Magic Eraser caught my eye. I remembered this exact post I read months ago. I bought it, brought it into work, wet it and, followed by a throng of on-lookers, wiped (not scrubbed) the Sharpie off the board as if it was nothing.

    AMAZING!

    The VP said “I bet now you have to throw that one away and buy a new one, right?” NO, Mr. Boss Man, you use it again and again until it’s GONE! WOW!!

  20. karen says:

    windex is so awesome even if u see it on the tv its not lying it does i tryed it before and it work really really good

  21. BGrigg says:

    Yeah, I know I’m chiming in late, but I just discovered this website, so bear with me.

    Another method to remove Sharpies are the Expo Erasable markers used for white boards. Just draw over top of your mutant sperm drawings and use the erasing fluid that comes in the kit. It works for fridges, stainless steel, laminate counter tops, though I haven’t used it on a paint wall. Don’t see any reason it wouldn’t work.

    Windex is awesome, by the way, but ZEP with Ammonia is just as good and half the cost. Look for it at Home Depot and other places. A gallon jug cost me less than $10. Windex is mostly water, with Isopropyl Alcohol and Ammonia, so it will sterilize pretty good. Your sister ain’t no dummy!

  22. Nicole says:

    When my son wrote (a lot) on his face with a Sharpie, I sort of shrugged and resigned myself to living with it for a few days until it wore off. Then I used a baby wipe to clean some foody bits off his face, and it took off ALL the marker, easily, no scrubbing.
    I think rubbing alcohol also works (perhaps those were not the alcohol-free wipes?), but I haven’t tried that.

    • Karen says:

      I should have thought of that. I know someone who deals with stains in their work and uses wipes all the time. I may do another go round on the Sharpie wall to see if it works! You know, just to satisfy my curiosity. ‘Cause I can’t help myself.

  23. Jan says:

    Strangely enough, suntan lotion also works. It removed a Sharpie ‘message’ that had been on a refrigerator door for months (just don’t ask what my friend’s 14-year-old boy wrote on her frig; after all, this is not a x-rated blog!).

    • Karen says:

      Well now, I just don’t believe that for one second. I’ve yet to meet a 14 year old boy that didn’t act entirely appropriately at all times. Your friend is obviously a great big liar. It was probably her husband who wrote the message. :)

  24. brenna says:

    OMG. thank you so much Karen!!! Also, this was HILARIOUS. My walls (love wiggles and all) thank you! I am going to stock up on magic erasers STAT.

  25. Langela says:

    I’ve never tried the Magic Eraser, but will keep it in mind. I do have one tip though, that I read about it. Do NOT (I’m sure you are dying to) rub it on your face or allow children to rub it on their faces. It can cause severe chemical burns. So if you end up with sharpie love squiggles on your face, resist the urge to try the Magic Eraser and try something else! :0)

  26. Brett Walther says:

    The Magic Eraser is also my secret weapon when it comes to keeping my white trainers sparkly and bright summer long. It’s quite wonderful – and this is coming from someone who usually turns his nose at anything but basic cleaners.

    • Karen says:

      I believe the Magic Eraser is on its way to becoming a basic cleaner. A classic. Like a plain white tee!

  27. earthpuppy says:

    And you can get pseudo-magic-easers a whole lot cheaper at discount stores–they work just as well!

  28. jeanenne says:

    It’s true! The Magic Eraser is MAGIC. I’ve removed all kinds of mysterious things from all types of surfaces.

    But you know what works in the very, very, extremely unlikely event that the Magic Eraser doesn’t work it’s usual amazing magic? WD-40 on a Q-Tip. Swear.

    • Karen says:

      You know what? One of the m-a-n-y emails my mother has forwarded me is all about WD-40. I plan on testing out many of the things and posting about it. I’m very excited to do it. Which is dorky, I know.

      • jeanenne says:

        With 3 kids and 2 dogs in my house, trying out new stain removal tricks is VERY exciting to a girl like me. I don’t know what your excuse is ;-)

      • Nancy Holder says:

        You’re HILARIOUS! Keep it up! :D

      • Nancy Holder says:

        Can anyone tell me what the active ingredient is in Magic Earaser? I’ve been dying to know but don’t have time to scroll all your comments to see if it has been addressed.

  29. Tricia Rose says:

    Giant mutant Ninja sperm- and you erased them!? Not life enhancing Karen!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0kJHQpvgB8

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